Evaluating the Conditions for Effective Collaboration

Organizations and individuals often face the decision of “when to collaborate.” In some cases, collaboration may not be a justified or an appropriate expenditure of time and resources. However making the decision of when to collaborate can be simplified by considering a few factors, which will help inform the decision-making process.

Determining when it is appropriate to collaborate depends on four main factors:

  • Is the situation or problem sufficiently complex
  • How interdependent are the parties that would be involved in the effort
  • The organization’s adaptability and willingness to embrace change and innovation
  • The collective commitment to engage in the process and take action

Complex situations can have complex outcomes, and the process of determining the outcome can be difficult. An easily remedied situation or problem that requires only sharing ideas through cooperation or with normal teamwork would not require the more structured process of collaboration. Collaboration is an intensive and in-depth process that exceeds the requirements for cooperation and teamwork.  Complex problems, which require an integrated effort involving multiple parties and multiple areas of expertise, justify a collaborative effort.

Collaboration is effective in organizations that understand the interdependency of the participants and the value of working together to achieve a shared objective. Orchestrating individual’s time, bringing together the proper skillsets, and allocating resources to achieve shared goals requires a commitment that can only be achieved when an organization recognizes these interdependencies. Often, independent groups will realize that the desired goal cannot be achieved without the skills, resources, and participation of other individuals or groups.  This realization is usually sufficient to justify and initiate a collaborative effort.

When the objective of the effort is to change an organization’s behavior or practices, every individual involved in the process should have a distinct interest in the achieving the change, making change a shared responsibility. The organization as a whole must be adaptable and prepared to accept the changes resulting from a collaborative effort.   Collaboration involving interdependent participants within an organization are likely to influence the adoption of changes, and in many cases, it is the mere existence of a cross functional collaborative team that facilitates the desired changes, however, this is not always the case. Many organizations and individuals within an organization can be very averse to change, which is why evaluating the organization’s overall willingness to embrace change is so critical.

The most important factor in deciding when to collaborate is whether the group is committed to working collaboratively to achieve the goals. This can be a challenge for many reasons including egos, working styles, and ambiguous goals. However, deciding if a group has the ability to collaborate effectively before beginning to work on a problem can help avoid many problems. If a group is not committed to working collaboratively, then the project will not progress in an efficient manner, wasting resources, ideas, and labor. Collaboration often demands the members make sacrifices, change work habits, and pursue collective goals. To be effective, a collaborative effort requires the commitment of every participant.

For organizations and individuals, the question of when to collaborate is important. Effective collaboration can produce many benefits, but an ineffective collaboration can result in significant waste and the failure to achieve objectives. Using the criteria outlined in this blog post will aid the decision-making process and help ensure effective collaboration.

Use inqiri to effectively collaborate with your social group and beyond.

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